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Rasputin's Bastards

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  213 ratings  ·  41 reviews
They were the beautiful dreamers.

From a hidden city deep in the Ural mountains, they walked the world as the coldest of Cold Warriors, under the command of the Kremlin and under the power of their own expansive minds.

They slipped into the minds of Russia's enemies with diabolical ease, and drove their human puppets to murder, and worse.

They moved as Gods. And as Gods, they
Paperback, 467 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by ChiZine Publications (first published January 1st 2012)
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3.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  213 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book makes me happy. Just the fact that it exists gives me hope. There is so much mediocre, predictable and sloppy genre fiction out there, every time someone breaks out of that mold I want to cheer (Jeffrey Ford also does that to me).

I loved Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism, and this one is just as wonderful, but quite different. It's one of those rare novels that doesn't fit neatly into any category. Yes, there are elements of horror and fantasy with a bit of the spy novel thrown in,
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
You may also read my review here:

Alexei Kilodovich, KGB agent, has been pulled out of the water by a ship full of criminals. Specifically, criminals specializing in the trafficking of children, and using them in various money making schemes. Holden Gibson, head honcho, is bad news, but he’s nothing in comparison to the people that Kilodovich is used to dealing with. Kilodovich had been serving as a body guard to a supposed “business woman”, but who is, in
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
I only recently discovered David Nickle through his short story in Best Horror of the Year (Vol. 4), edited by Ellen Datlow. The short story is called "Looker" and I'll have a lot more to say about it when I review the anthology, but at this point let me say that it was both beautifully written, utterly creepy, and made my skin crawl.

Rasputin's Bastards is something altogether different - an epic Cold War novel featuring former KGB agents - the remnants of a former Soviet program to develop psy
Jun 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Rasputin's Bastards starts out with a very interesting premise tying together psychic, sleeper agents, and Russia's dark history. As a whole, the storyline was intriguing because Nickle only gives you tiny pieces of a massive ongoing story scattered between over a dozen characters. You get bits from characters' backstory, future, present, questionable memories, and 'happy places'.

My issue is only with the actual delivery. The story is told in 1-2 page snippets dealing with various characters. So
Matt Brady
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2014
A frustrating read. Soviet psychics cast adrift with the end of the Cold War wage war through sleeper agents to control the world. It's a relatively simple and interesting story told in a complicated way that just made things more confusing than they needed to be. Lots of cool ideas but it never came together.
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Read my full review on The Crow’s Caw:
Apr 17, 2012 marked it as maybe
One to keep my eye on - see how the ratings pan out.
Jul 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was initially hesitant to buy this book, intriguing as it sounds, because the author is a horror writer and I'm not really into horror. But this book is definitely not horror. WHAT it is is another question entirely; the only point of reference I can give a potential reader might be the kind of stuff China Mieville writes: gritty, sometimes disturbing stories that take reality and turn it on its head while packing in imaginative concepts from a dozen different genres.

In Rasputin's Bastards Dav
Nov 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
A spy story? Cold War? Hardly the sort of thing I pick up, on the surface. I have never seen a James Bond film, for example.

This was something entirely different. Shelved Soviet projects, Cold War holdovers out of place, sleeper agents and warped psychics. Layers of identities are giftwrapped over the disquieting sense that small children can see right through any attempts at pretence. Served with a side order of giant squid and at least one absolute gem hidden in a turn of phrase at least once
Lynne Premo
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia, scifi, horror
Damn. Just damn.

Nickle has a lot going on in this book, with layers upon layers of reality and not reality, such that you should probably not do what I did and go a long period between chapters, if you want to grasp everything happening here. As it is, this novel is the sort that lends itself to re-reading because the second and subsequent readings will provide much more depth (and recollection of which character is which and the relationships among them) than the first go-round. But the result
Feb 28, 2014 rated it liked it
An intriguing read if this sort of thing appeals. There are a couple of missteps plot and pace-wise but I enjoyed it. Note to the author: Glocks do not have a safety. A small thing it's true but for anyone knowledgeable about firearms it immediately spoils the suspension of disbelief.
Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
At first I thought this was a knockoff of Midnight's Children, but the more I read, it got deliciously weird.
Ian McKinley
I find it's difficult to get through a long tale like this when there are no sympathetic characters. For me, if everyone is a complete jerk, I don't care about them, I don't care what happens to them - unless its comeuppance - and I have a hard time following them through their challenges and through their conflicts with their adversaries. There are some interesting ideas in this book, but on the balance, I'm glad to have completed it so I can move on to something else.
Lorina Stephens
Jun 28, 2012 rated it liked it
There is no disputing David Nickle's ability as a strong story-teller with an aggressive style. If you're looking for subtle and lyrical, Rasputin's Bastard's is not it. If you're looking for a Clancy-ish SF, you've found your writer.

Set in the confusion of post-Cold War Era, Nickle's story unfolds around a large cast of characters, all working toward the same end, to either prevent, or create, world domination not through force of arms, but through aggression of a far more insidious and devasta
M Tat
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Having picked this book up out of 'dire need to read something while on the bus', I was pleasantly surprised.

This is not a novel cut & dried easily for review, rather it (the novel) benefits from the layered approach: mental constructs, referred to as 'metaphors', provide some rather interesting opportunities for interpretation.

Suffice to say, reading this work _is_ a little jarring. There is some jumping around that may cause the reader's head to spin. It seems essential, then, to note the
Jun 13, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoyed Rasputin's Bastards and there is no doubt after reading this book that David Nickle is a very talented author. The story is elaborate, meaty and well written. It however confused me a great deal.

The story based on a dozen or so central characters about Russian sleeper agents, psychics, puppet masters and of course their puppets. Who that is frequently is a mystery. Which gets to the confusion. The story is told in bursts from a variety of characters point of view. When changing you oft
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Flash back to the cold war era and add a twist. Agents who are able to get in other people's minds and use them as puppets. Many sleepers may or may not have been sleeping over many years. Then add a couple levels of this technique and mix it in with jealousy, power and greed. These are Rasputin's Bastards.
While the novel is long with many story arcs it is possible to follow it. If you want an easy read, this isn't it. This is one for when you have time to register the characters and what they
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Really didn't think that I would enjoy the story line as much as I did; psychic spies from the Cold War. Really? As fantastical as the story got at times it was fun taking those twists and turns, and remarkably grounded given the plot. I had a lot of fun reading this. The author had a great story to tell and executed it with thoughtful and well rounded characters. Would recommend.
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
There's a lot of cleaver ideas in here, the use of the post-Cold War for settings and characters and psychic warfare. Nickle avoids the telepathy trap of just having characters stare at each other and shake, ala Scanners, by having them navigate thought each others psyches through their memories.
Nadine Jones
Jan 21, 2016 marked it as to-read
I want to read this because the blurb sounds like the very best X-Files episode ever. Also, Nickle's writing.
Susan Batho
Nov 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Despite the constant jumping through time and space of this book, it gathers speed and finally takes you to a strange, yet fascinating climax. Taking the hypothesis of the Cold War development of psychic powers - both in Russia and the States - and adding Rasputin's own reputation as a psychic and womaniser (perhaps using his mind-powers to do so?), the program was much assisted by blood lines - which are "encouraged". At one point, I was thinking it smacked of "Village of the Damned" with all t ...more
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didnt-finish
I dont know. This really isnt my genre. It's my fault. I really was thinking there would be, well, more mentions of Rasputin.
So, my fault.
This is a deeply weird book, and it might take me a while to decide if I liked it or not.
Madelaine Shaw-Wong
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
A long and complicated plot, but well worth the read.
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: supernatural
This is a novel about some kind of secret Soviet program of what I would call psychic vampirism. I gather that the author was working off of the old remote viewing programs that were all the rage in the early 70's. In this book that is taken too a whole new level. And another level, and another, and so forth and so on. This is where the book faltered for this reader. It started out bizarre and slowly built to a point where the author began to explain the story. And then went even more bizarre to ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
A very interesting concept (what happens to Soviet-created psychics after the Cold War ends?), but I found myself getting bored with all the characters. Some of them were interesting, fleshed out, with clear motivations, and others just seemed to be plot devices. And I have to confess that I didn't even really understand what was at stake in the grand scheme, and why the villains acted the way they did.
Oct 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
I loved the premise of this book and the concept was compelling and very creative. The story carried me along well for the first quarter, but it began to become too complex for me as a reader as perspective and plains of reality changed constantly. The characters did not develop well and the ending left me feeling extremely dissatisfied. It's like the author got caught up in tangled plot lines and just decided to end the book rather than cause himself more pain.
Tyrannosaurus regina
This book was certainly well-structured, well-written and well-paced, and for fans of thrillers and cold war espionage with added speculative elements it will probably be just their thing, but it kept me at a distance and I never really connected with the characters. Good book, just not to my taste.
May 11, 2013 rated it it was ok

I applaud the effort and original ideas here but I have to admit that I just wanted it to be over around the 2/3rd mark.

there was a certain amount of drag and complexity and several characters about whom I couldn't care less. I just felt no attachment to any part of it. still, interesting premise, and decent writing.
Jun 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
I got lost and can't find my way back to the story. I have never been a spy novel fan. I don't watch Bond movies either and I should have known this wasn't going to be my favorite. I'll have to mark this one a DNF.
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Has anyone finished this? SO many questions. 1 5 Jul 25, 2012 07:01PM  

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David Nickle is the author of several novels and numerous short stories. His latest novel, VOLK: A Novel of Radiant Abomination, is available from ChiZine Publications. His novel Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism (to which VOLK is a sequel) was a finalist for the Aurora Award, the Sunburst Award and the Compton Crook Award. His story collection Monstrous Affections won the 2009 Black Quill Rea ...more